Missing pieces

  • By John Boyle Herald Writer
  • Monday, April 25, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

Having the luxury of the No. 6 pick in the first round of last year’s draft, the Seahawks found their long-term solution at left tackle when they selected Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung.

This year head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider hope to use the draft to help build t

he rest of the offensive line.

And make no mistake, getting Okung, who looks like an elite left tackle in the making, was a huge step for Seattle’s new regime as it tries to build a long-term winner. After quarterback, that’s perhaps the most important positions in the game. The problem the Seahawks face is the rest of the O-line is anything but settled.

The Seahawks started 10 different line combinations in 16 regular season games last year, and while some of that was because of injuries, it was also a reflection of the lack of talented options Carroll had to work with. Patching things together on a week-to-week basis, the Seahawks were one of the worst rushing teams in the league, ranking 31st in rushing yards per game (89.0) and tied for 29th in yards-per-carry (3.7).

While the Seahawks have plenty of needs, getting better up front might be the single most important task for Carroll and Schneider. And while they can’t build a new line in one draft, the Seahawks hope to add at least a piece or two that can make a difference right away and also for years to come.

“I would say we would like to come out of the draft with at least one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman,” Schneider said. “Now, whether or not our board falls that way, I don’t know. But we are not going to reach for guys. Last year was unique because Walter (Jones) wasn’t here so all of a sudden, we need a left tackle. Like a legitimate guy. So that was pretty nerve-racking.”

And Seattle was fortunate that it was able to land Okung in a draft that was deep and talented at left tackle. This year’s draft class isn’t so strong at left tackle, which is fine for Seattle, and even better for the Seahawks, it’s a class that is deep at right tackle and the interior line positions.

“The fact that they were able to get their left tackle last year. … that’s one of the most important things that Seattle did last year,” said Rob Rang, a senior draft analyst for CBSSports.com. “They didn’t just read last year’s board, they read this year’s board too. That was pretty impressive that they were able to pull that off. There will be a right tackle available at 25 (the Seahawks have the 25th pick in the first round) virtually guaranteed that can come in and start right away.”

“And certainly you can find an interior lineman who will be able to play well in the second, third, fourth round.”

One option for Seattle at 25 if it wants to improve its line would be a guard, particularly if Florida’s Mike Pouncey, widely regarded as the best interior lineman in the draft, is still on the board. The good news for Seattle is that it has so many needs, it won’t be limited by position when it comes to upgrading its line in the draft.

Then again, having that many options could also qualify as bad news, because the fact is, other than Okung at left tackle, no position on the line is set for 2011. Max Unger, who missed almost all of last season because of a toe injury, will almost certainly start somewhere, likely at center or right guard. He began last year at right guard with Chris Spencer at center, but Spencer is a free agent and Schneider has said the team views Unger as the long term solution at center. So if we assume for a moment that Unger is the starting center, that potentially leaves holes at both guard spots.

At right tackle, meanwhile, the Seahawks could re-sign Sean Locklear, but the fact that they restructured his deal before last season, cutting his pay and making him a free agent this year instead of next, seems to indicate that he’s not a huge priority. Stacy Andrews, who took over for Unger at right guard last season, is another option at right tackle — his natural position — but it’s unlikely Seattle will keep him under his current contract, which has him making more than $5 million next season.

Basically, there are only two certainties on Seattle’s line next season: Okung and a whole lot of change. In this week’s draft, Schneider and Carroll hope to find at least some of the pieces they’ll need to build the foundation of their offense for this year and many more to come.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lake Stevens’ Jesse Lewis bats away a long pass attempt while in coverage against Graham-Kapowsin during the WIAA 4A Football State Championship on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Back to back!: Lake Stevens wins 4A state football title

The Vikings beat Graham-Kapowsin 31-6 for their second straight Class 4A state championship.

Graham-Kapowsin’s Daveon Superales keeps the ball on a quarterback run during the 4A semifinal against Lake Stevens on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
4A state championship capsule: Lake Stevens vs. Graham-Kapowsin

A by-the-numbers look at Saturday’s state title game, plus game picks from our experts and readers.

Prep roundup for Saturday, Dec. 2

Prep results for Saturday, Dec. 2: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Due to a… Continue reading

Lake Stevens’ David Brown snags a game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter of the 4A semifinal against Graham-Kapowsin on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Coaches weigh in on Lake Stevens vs. Graham-Kapowsin title game

Three coaches from Snohomish County and one from Pierce County give their perspectives on the teams.

A gang of Lake Stevens Vikings take down the ball carrier during the 4A semifinal against Graham-Kapowsin on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Looking back at the Lake Stevens vs. G-K state playoff rivalry

The Class 4A powers are set to face for the third straight postseason and sixth time since 2015.

Prep roundup for Friday, Dec. 1

Prep results for Friday, Dec. 1: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: Due to a… Continue reading

Lake Stevens’ Jaxson Lewis (8) runs with the ball during a Class 4A state semifinal game between Lake Stevens and Kamiakan at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. Lake Stevens won, 48-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Another state title well within reach for surging Lake Stevens

The Vikings head into Saturday’s championship clash riding a string of dominant performances.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks (3) catches a pass for a first down as Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (33) defends in the first half of Thursday’s game in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Grading the Seahawks in their 41-35 loss to the Cowboys

Seattle gives a game effort on the road against a strong Dallas team, but falters at the end.

Kamiak’s Bella Hasan finishes at the rim with a driving layup against Stanwood on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, at Stanwood High School in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: Hasan, Anderson power Kamiak girls past Stanwood

The duo combine for 50 points in a 71-49 victory of the Knights.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Nov. 30

Prep results for Thursday, Nov. 30: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Granite Falls senior James Porter braces for a hit after making a catch against Kings on Friday, Oct. 19, 2023, at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Locals named to All-Emerald Sound Conference teams

Student-athletes honored from Granite Falls, King’s and Sultan.

Washington safety Makell Esteen (24) celebrates making an interception against Washington State with cornerback Jabbar Muhammad (1) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
UW, Oregon meet with Pac-12 title, potential CFP spot on the line

The final season of the Pac-12 is set to close with a massive rivalry clash.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.